December 31, 2009

2009 - My Favourites

These lists have taken a lot of thought, I have been pondering them for a few days now as I have read all of your lists - each one has added another book to my list! These books are not necessarily literary masterpieces - they are the books I have enjoyed reading the most this year - the ones that have stayed with me and the ones I would recommend in a heartbeat as great reads. As I have compiled the lists I have been really happy to see that a few Australian authors are represented - I am ashamed to say that I have previously stayed away from my local authors - a mistake that I won't be making in the future.
I have decided to take a leaf from Simon's blog and write two lists for my favourite reads from 2009 - my ten favourites published in 2009 and my ten favourites published prior to this. I have included links to my full reviews if you would like to check them out and a key thought from my original review to give you an idea of what I was thinking about it at the time.

Favourites Published in 2009:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of The Pie - Alan Bradley - The actual mystery plot was neither here nor there for me - I just cared about hearing more from Falvia about her adventures! I am pleased to hear that Alan Bradley has at least 2 more Flavia books on the horizon - can't wait!! A pure delight to read - I only wish those other books were out now!

The Lost Life - Steven Carroll - This book is simply gorgeous - I read it over two nights but could have finished it quicker if I didn't need sleep! A quote on the back of the book from The Australian newspaper declares this "A writer worth cherishing. His prose is unfailingly assured, lyrical, poised" - I could not possibly put it better myself.

Brooklyn - Colm Toibin - The writing flowed beautifully - I really felt as though I was sitting down with a good friend listening to the story of their life. I will definitely be looking out for more of Toibin's work.

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout - If you enjoy brilliantly written books centred on character development and introspection than this is novel for you - just wonderful. I will be thinking about Olive for a long time to come.

The Taste of Sorrow - Jude Morgan - I found the writing throughout absolutely stunning - without wanting to sound cliched - the writing was like a beautiful piece of music - it flowed and carried you along with it.

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel - I have to say I am very, very impressed! This is my first Mantel read but if this is indicative of her writing style in general and her connection to her characters and the story she creates I will be reading others.

The Glass Room - Simon Mawer - The narrative of this novel flows beautifully and I felt that the way that the author captured, described and demonstrated the many different relationships (including different characters relationships with the house) within the novel showed an amazing capability for understanding people and their motives - and just how complex these are.

Lovesong - Alex Miller - There is a lot of pain and tragedy to their story - I was completely absorbed in this - it felt real and honest and even though it had the potential to be quite melodramatic this didn't happen.

Howards End is On The Landing - Susan Hill - I really enjoyed being a part of Hill's reading world and I was sorry it had to come to an end. Maybe there will be a sequel??

Valley of Grace - Marion Halligan - I would recommend this book if you enjoy reading about characters inner lives - their thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears. I loved this one and would love to see a sequel developed as well so I could follow the characters some more.

Favourites Published Before 2009:

44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith - I loved this book completely - totally gorgeous is how I would describe it! I'm already on to the sequel - Espresso Tales.

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss - I have to join in and echo Claire's (and many others) thoughts about this book - it is simply stunning. As I was reading it I was actually trying to find flaws in it because I thought a book just cannot be this good - every word and sentence was perfectly placed and constructed - and yet nothing seemed forced or contrived.

I Capture The Castle - Dodie Smith - My only sad point is that there is no follow up to I Capture The Castle - I would have liked to have read about Cassandra as she continued to grow into adulthood - although maybe that would ruin the magic...

Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates - This book is extremely powerful – the language, the scenes, the relationships and the choices the characters make, even the moments of silence and contemplation all hold you – you aren’t going anywhere once you have started this book.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice has never been my favourite Austen novel - don't get me wrong, I still love it, I have just never connected with Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy the way so many other readers have. Having said that though, I really enjoyed reading the book this time around

The Making of a Marchioness - Frances Hodgson Burnett - The storyline, the writing style, the detailed descriptions of fashions and scenes and the characters themselves (in particularly Emily) all enchanted me - there is no other way to describe my reaction to this book - I was completely enchanted and charmed by the whole thing!

Almost French - Sarah Turnbull - Almost French was a book I was always going to be drawn to - although I think I enjoyed reading it even more the second time after having now been to Paris (however briefly!) myself.

The Art of the Engine Driver - Steven Carroll - The Art Of The Engine Driver felt seamless to me - the writing, the story and the characters just flowed. I didn't want the story to end but at the same time I just couldn't stop reading it.

Affinity - Sarah Waters - The writing is evocative and enticing - I felt like I was walking through Victorian London, particularly the scenes set in the prison which felt disturbingly real at times.

Wanting - Richard Flanagan - Wanting is a haunting book - there is really no other way for me to describe my reading of it. I felt mesmerised by the story being played out in front of me and the characters that were playing it out.

Such fantastic reading in 2009 - I can't wait to see what 2010 will bring!


Anonymous said...

What a great list! I Capture the Castle is a favorite of mine. Wolf Hall is turning into my treadmill it's exceptionally slow going!

Karen said...

Hi Softdrink - I did experience that feeling with Wolf Hall in the middle too - I would say stick with it because I think it ends with a bang (or it did for me anyway!).

Frances said...

Wonderful choices. I loved many of these also and included The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The History of Love on my own list. Happy reading in the new year!

Karen said...

Hi Frances - I was just reading your list and noticed that you had put these two down too! I can't wait for the sequel to TSATBOTP!!

Danielle said...

I see a few favorites of my own on your lists! I'm happy to see Brooklyn popping up as well! Happy Reading in 2010!

Darlene said...

The Taste of Sorrow is a book that I'm really, really looking forward to reading. Fabulous list you have there Karen!

Karen said...

Hi Danielle - Brooklyn was such a subtle book in many ways for me that I admit I had to be reminded of it - but once I was I remembered how wonderful it was.

Hi Darlene - I hope you enjoy it when you get to read it. It certainly inspired me to read more of about about the Brontes.

Steph said...

I loved your list of books, Karen. Many of the books you mention would be on my list of top books (though many of them I read prior to 2009), and the ones that I haven't I've really been looking forward too. Hopefully some of these books that I haven't read yet will make it into my life in 2010!

Kim said...

That is a great list, Karen. I have two of those books already sitting on my TBR pile (Wolf Hall and The Glass Room), but, I haven't read any of the others yet so will be including some of them them on my ever growing wish list for 2010...So many great books, so little time to read!
Thank you for your great reviews in 2009, I have really enjoyed following your blog and reading what you have to say.
Happy New Year and all the best for 2010.

Unknown said...

I'm pleased to see The Glass Room on your list - I loved it!

I really need to get a copy of Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - I have heard so many great things about it.

I think I need to read some Flanagan too - he is an author that intrigues me.

Have a happy 2010!

Karen said...

Hi Steph - there are just too many books and not enough time!!

Hi Kim - Thanks so much for your comment - I really hope you enjoy Wolf Hall and The Glass Room when you get to them - as you can see, I loved them!

Hi Jackie - Happy 2010 to you too! Flanagan was one of my best finds of 2009 - Wanting was just gorgeous in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

You have read some wonderful books - some that I know and some that I am looking forward to. I wish you many more in 2010.

JoAnn said...

Amazing list! The ones I've read have been winners (especially Brooklyn, Olive K, I Capture the Castle, Rev Road, and P&P) and many of the others are on my wishlist. Happy reading in 2010!

Anonymous said...

I loved The Glass Room as well, and I Capture The Castle has made it to my all-time favourites. It's such a wonderful book.

I'll be reading Affinity and Pride & Prejudice in the new year. Also, I have a copy of Revolutionary Road lying around which I probably should read.

Happy 2010 reading:)

Karen said...

Hi Fleur - Happy Reading in 2010!

Hi JoAnn - I've noticed that we share a lot of the same favourites! I will be sure to keep checking out your blog in 2010 for more reading ideas!

Hi anothercookiecrumbles - Revolutionary Road is brilliant - just make sure you are in a good space when you read it!

Iliana said...

Oh goodness I've not read any of your favorites that were published in 09 but I think almost all are on my wish list :)

Karen said...

Hi Iliana - I hope you get to read some of them this year! So many books - too little time as always!

Tara said...

I am loving this list! The Jude Morgan is one I am really looking forward to; already preordered the paperback at the bookdepository!

Karen said...

Hi Tara - I really hope you enjoy it when you get to it - it is a wonderful book to take your time with.

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